One local university is standing behind the Senate’s decision to pass an anti-hazing bill.

The bill came about in response to last year’s tragic Penn State death.  It would make the penalties stricter for students charged with hazing. 

Edinboro University Student Brandon Hall says joining a fraternity changed his life for the better.  “It is smaller, but it’s one that’s very motivated.  We get things done and we do a lot for the community.”  But, he understands not every Greek Life student has the same experience and that’s why he’s in support of a bill unanimously approved by the Senate, proposed in honor of Penn State Fraternity Pledge Timothy Piazza.  

Currently, hazing is only a misdemeanor offense.  That law would make hazing a third-degree felony in the case of serious bodily injury or death.

The Edinboro University Director of Campus Life, Shellie Ritzel, tells us the bill is a step in the right direction.  “Any way that they can elevate it for students to know that we do take it seriously and that it is not tradition…” 

The legislation would help ensure that students accused of hazing will still be held accountable for that charge, even if other offenses are dropped in court.”

Attorney Eric Hackwelder tells us, “This is strictly for hazing, which has a different definition than the other charges; like aggravated assault, simple assault, involuntary manslaughter…”

Hackwelder says if the bill moves forward, people convicted of hazing could also face more time in prison on top of, in some cases, giving up their rights to travel, enroll in school, and even vote.  He says it’s a deterrent that could send a strong message. 

Ritzel tells us they tackle the issue of hazing by taking preventative measures like educating students and faculty.

Governor Tom Wolf praised the bi-partisan support of the bill.  Right now, it’s waiting for approval from the house to move forward.